We Waltons fans love to spot our favourite actors in other roles. Many of the actors have appeared on a multitude of television shows and it’s always fun to find them, either before or after their time on The Waltons. Here’s an early photo of Ellen Corby in a guest role on Adam-12. This episode was in 1969 and I thank Waltons Digest member, Ralph, for sharing it with us. She really looks quite different here but I’m sure you can tell who she is by her distinctive voice!
Those of you who are members of The Waltons Digest, an email fan club that I run, will be aware that over the past months I have been taking each Waltons episode directed by the wonderful Ralph Senensky and adding my comments to his. You can read his accounts of directing The Waltons at his website Ralph’s Cinema Trek. He has taken each of the episodes he directed from The Waltons and given wonderful background information and memories on each episode. Pop over and have a look because you’ll find a wealth of information on many favourite classic shows. I had a wonderful time visiting there and return often.
One of the episodes he directed was the fabulous The Pony Cart, which featured the return of Beulah Bondi as one of the most loved Walton family members, Martha Corinne. When fans are asked to nominate their top 10 episodes, this one appears in most lists. Beulah Bondi was awarded an Emmy in 1977 for her portrayal of Martha Corinne and I believe rightly so. It’s a script that’s beautifully written and tells of Martha Corinne returning to visit the Walton home. She comes bearing gifts for each family member: arrow heads for the younger boys (“they’ll be worth a lot of money someday”), knitted mittens for the younger girls, a beautiful patchwork quilt for Mary Ellen (“That’s for your new life”), for Zeb she has Henry’s shaving gear, Esther she gives a bedspread which she has crocheted herself, John gets pickled peaches, Olivia receives a shawl that Martha Corinne’s mama crocheted and gave to Martha Corinne on her wedding day and finally John Boy receives family photos that include a photo of Zeb and Henry’s (Martha Corinne’s husband) mother and father on their wedding day. What wonderful and thoughtful gifts.
Martha Corinne stays awhile with the family and manages to irk most of them. However when she has well and truly outstayed her welcome, and John Boy is enlisted to take her home, he discovers that she has been having minor heart attacks. She wanted to be surrounded by family when she finally died. John Boy returns to the Walton home with her, saying he couldn’t leave her because she felt unwell. The remainder of her days is spent helping Ben decorate his pony cart in the way it was decorated in her day. Following are some of the photos both of the cart and the Walton family.
I was extremely saddened to learn that Joe Conley had passed away on July 7, 2013.
Joe Conley was very well known to viewers of The Waltons for his role as Ike Godsey, the Waltons Mountain store owner.
I have been fortunate enough to meet Joe twice at the Waltons International Fan Club reunions, in 2007 and again in 2012.
What a joy it was to chat with him about his time on The Waltons and also to watch him interact with Waltons fans and cast members so enthusiastically.
Ike Godsey was a wonderful character in The Waltons. As the storekeeper he was the person with all of the gossip, the person everyone stopped to chat with when they came in to buy their groceries or post and collect their mail. A single man for the first few seasons, the writers finally introduced the character who was to become his wife in season 3. Ronnie Claire Edwards came onto the show to create the character of Corabeth. Corabeth, from Doe Hill, was a Walton cousin who came to stay awhile and became Corabeth Godsey.
Joe Conley seemed to really enjoy being a part of The Waltons, and was a very early supporter of the Waltons International Fan Club.
I thought visitors to this blog might enjoy the following film clip which I shot at the 2012 reunion in Los Angeles. Ronnie Claire Edwards speaks about her working relationship with Joe “Mr Godsey” Conley. Enjoy.
I recently came across a wonderful website, written by director Ralph Senensky. He has written his memories of many television shows that he has directed, and includes several episodes of The Waltons. It’s fascinating reading, but more on that in another post.
While I was there I stumbled on a telemovie that I had never heard of before called A Dream for Christmas. It starred the lovely Lynn Hamilton, who so beautifully played Verdie in The Waltons. How is it that I’d never heard of it before?? So I put out a call on the Waltons Digest to the members, and sure enough, one of them not only knew about the telemovie, but had it on video.
Kimberly was very happy to write the following review for me:
In your February Waltons Digest you mentioned the movie, “A Dream for Christmas,” starring Lynn Hamilton (Verdie on the Waltons). I bought it on VHS off ebay back in December 2012 (It has never been released on DVD). I finally watched it this past week. It has several “Waltons” connections. It was directed by Ralph Senesky (who directed several Waltons episodes). Lee Rich was the Executive Producer on this movie as well as The Waltons. The story was written by John McGreevey & the teleplay was written by John McGreevey & Max Hodge. John McGreevey wrote several of the Waltons episodes including one of my favorites…..”The Scholar.” That is the episode that John Boy (Richard Thomas) teaches Verdie (Lynn Hamilton) to read.
Frances E. Williams is in the movie. She also played “Granny Ketchum” on the Waltons episode, “The Odyssey.” She is the one who gives John Boy the white mule named Blue.
The movie is set in 1950. Reverend William Douglas (Hari Rhodes), his wife Lynn Hamilton, their 4 children & the Reverend’s mother played by Beah Richards live in Sweet Clover Arkansas. He has been contacted to come take over a church in Los Angeles California right before Christmas. At the beginning of the movie one of the women who are seeing them off & telling them goodbye is played by Marla Gibbs (the maid Florence on The Jeffersons). Once they arrive in LA, three of the women from the church come to welcome them. One of them is Frances E. Williams & another one is Zara Cully (she played George Jefferson’s mother on The Jeffersons). I have only seen her on The Jeffersons & it was really different seeing her play a very nice church going woman!
The church has a belfry & Rev. Douglas has always wanted one but the bell is missing. The church has seen better days but it is big with beautiful stained windows. There is a sign out front beside the church that says the whole block will be demolished & a shopping center built in its place. The parsonage is attached to the church to the left of the pulpit. It is also big with an upstairs & some furniture & it too has seen better days. The paint is coming off of the walls but the family cannot believe how big it is. As they are moving their few belongings inside from their vehicle, two men from the church come to talk to the Reverend.
They tell him that they have not been able to pay the mortgage on the church in nearly a year & that if they cannot pay by the new year that the church will be torn down & become part of the shopping center. They are sorry that he has made the long trip & that they also have no money to pay him a salary. Later that night Lynn lets the Reverend know that they have $83.00 dollars left & that should be enough until he starts getting his salary. He lets her know there will be no salary. The Reverend tries to find a job & tries talking to the man over the shopping center several times, Lynn Hamilton & Beah Richards look for work. The Reverend’s oldest son gets a job after school washing cars. The first church gathering has a total of about 14 people of which half is the Reverend & his family. Will the church be saved? Will enough members come back to save the church? Enough money be collected? Will the man over the shopping center have a change of heart? Will the Christmas dream come true?
Two things I really liked about this movie (other than Lynn Hamilton being in it, I’m a big fan of hers) is: Bradley is the youngest child. I would guess about 6 or 7 years old. He shares a room with his older brother, who is 15. They have bunkbeds & Bradley takes the top bunk. He cannot get into or out of it without his brother’s help. On Christmas morning, Bradley wakes up & starts calling for his brother to help him down, when he notices that his brother has made him a ladder, tied a red bow on it & has a note attached telling him, “Merry Christmas.” The other thing also takes place on Christmas morning. The oldest son bought a bell from the local junkman. The junkman came & installed it without his parents knowledge & the boy starts pulling the rope for the bell to be heard on Chistmas morning. Naturally, his father shows up & his son tells him that it is his present to him. His father is very happy & starts helping him pull the rope.
They have alot of hardships along the way to trying to save the church. The Reverend cannot find work. Lynn & Beah find work as housekeepers. The oldest girl struggles trying to fit into her new school & she dearly misses her best friend back in Arkansas. The oldest son tries to be a good influence on a new friend instead of letting the new friend be a bad influence on him. The Reverend tries to reach some of the teens in the area who are “con” men. Bradley dearly misses his dog he had to leave behind. Then Beah has a heart attack.
There are several interesting things featured in this movie like the marveling over TV in a shop window by the children. Beah Richards surprised to learn that you can make a phone call in a box (a phone booth). Lynn & Beah go grocery shopping. They come out with 4 BIG paper bags of groceries & they tell the Reverend…..Can you believe that this cost six dollars (and some change, I forgot the exact change they said). LOL!! Today six dollars wouldn’t hardly buy anything!
In the end, the church is saved. The pews are full, the man over the shopping center comes & lets them know that he will build the shopping center & leave the church in the corner. The Reverend will start getting a salary, Beah has recovered from her heart attack, Lynn can give up her job & stay home taking care of it & the children. And Bradley got a new puppy from Santa Claus. If you ever get a chance to watch this movie, I highly recommend it.
foreverwaltons (Kimberly from Alabama)
After my last post about The Waltons game, I had two very dear Waltons friends come to my rescue.
Carolyn rang me the following morning to tell me that the instructions were found on the inside of the box lid. I have two games and I found that one of them did, in fact, have the instructions there. I hadn’t noticed them there before. We also chatted about when the game may have been manufactured and decided that the photographs used in the game were probably from the first of second seasons. I’d love to know which episodes they were taken from and will investigate that further. When I read the instructions on the inside of the lid, I also discovered a copyright date…1974.
I’m still very surprised that there is no image of Jim Bob in the scene cards, although he does appear on the box.
Etta also checked her box and found the instructions on the lid. She photographed them and here they are for you below. Hopefully you will be able to enlarge the photo and make out the writing.
Both ladies mentioned that they have played the Waltons game with their grandchildren and all have enjoyed it. I think we forget what fun we used to have sitting down and playing cards and board games with our families. I remember playing board games with my older brother and father. We went camping a great deal and holidays were a wonderful time to play games and cards. Both Dad and my older brother were very competitive and took great pleasure in beating me in all manner of games. We played Rummy as one of our card games and we could always tell when my brother was about to go out because he would get this big grin on his face. Naturally you would then try to get rid of anything you could from your hand so you weren’t accumulating a huge score! They were fun times. Later I learnt to play Cribbage with Dad and we would often play when I visited. He was still very competitive right up until he died and would just love it if I missed scoring something from my hand and he could yell “Muggins” and take those points for himself.
I never really took to Checkers but I think the Walton children played Checkers at some point. I’m not sure what other games were played and perhaps that’s something that could be explored in another post.
I think children gain so much from playing board games with family members but it doesn’t seem to happen much anymore. Perhaps this post will inspire some people to find their Waltons game, or some other board games they have around the place but never use, and introduce them to their children.
So thank you to my wonderful Waltons friends, Carolyn and Etta, for helping me out, and to the rest of you out there…have fun playing!
I recently came across some of my Waltons memorabilia, including The Waltons game. I wonder how many people have played it?
What has always confused me is that the set doesn’t come with instructions so it seems to be left up to the players to decide their own rules!
I thought I’d post the board game and some of the cards here to give you an idea of it and maybe we can work out rules together.
Here’s the main board.
As you can see the board has four scenes on it. There are actually enough cards for eight scenes, so I’m guessing these would all get shuffled and each player would choose the one they would then compile.
Each scene has a Waltons Game place card and again I’m guessing that the scene you have to put together goes there. As I said there are eight scenes. Each scene has then been enlarged and is cut into four pieces, which need to be played in the spaces underneath the scene card.
Here are the different place card scenes:
Here’s one of the scenes made up of the correct “jigsaw” pieces to create the scene. You can clearly see that there are four cards making the scene and the scene is of place card number six.
Finally there are two Wild Cards which have John Boy on them. If you get this card then you can put it into your scene as the last piece to win. Here’s the John Boy card:
And there you have all the pieces of the game.
One thing I did find mystifying is that all of the main family members appear at least once in the card scenes with the exception of Jim Bob. I wonder why he wasn’t included. John Boy doesn’t have a scene either but at least he is on the special cards!
The scenes seem to be from Season 1. I think that scene 2, with the girls and another lady, may be from The Carnival but I could be wrong and would be interested to see if we can place the scenes from other episodes.
This type of merchandise based around television shows seemed to be very popular in the 60′s and 70′s. The Waltons had books, the typical lunch box and thermos, dolls and other play things based upon it. They’re fun to look back on fondly and to collect if you’re lucky enough to find them. I’ll share some of my other memorabilia in another post.
In the meantime if you have any suggestions on how to play the game, I’d love to know.
Whilst not a Waltons Christmas telemovie, I’m including it in my list of Christmas specials because it is a favourite with Waltons fans. It stars Richard Thomas too which makes it another good reason to be added in the blog.
Here is the Christmas Box that actually opens and closes the film.
The film opens with Richard Thomas’ character, Richard, working very hard in his ski shop. In fact Richard is working so hard at establishing his business that he really doesn’t have a great deal of time for his wife and daughter, Jenna. His wife really wants to live in a larger house and so they go for an interview for a job where they would become live in companions to an elderly lady, Mary. She doesn’t really seem to like Richard all that much but she grows to love his wife and child. Mary tries very hard to instil in Richard just how precious his family should be to him. Through Richard’s dreams and some snooping on his part we learn that Mary had lost a child, Andrea, at the age of 5. The age his small daughter is now.
Mary continues to be a bit prickly towards Richard, often asking him questions she clearly wants him to think about and come to realise the correct answer. “What was the first gift of Christmas?” is one that really stumps him.
He does finally come to grasp the answer (which I won’t tell you here!) and then his thinking about his future undergoes a change.
It really is a beautiful film and along with The Homecoming, it is one that is a Christmas ritual with many Waltons fans.
Here’s a screen grab of Richard with his young daughter, Jenna, played beautifully by Kelsey Mulrooney. The lovely Maureen O’Hara plays the no nonsense Mary and Annette O’Toole plays his wife, Keri.
And here’s one of the final scenes with the family bundled up around their beautiful Christmas tree.
Last year I looked at most of the Waltons Christmas episodes. The one that I didn’t get a chance to write about was the two part special episode, The Children’s Carol.
This episode comes in the middle of season 6 and one of the reasons I love it so much is that a fellow Aussie, Sally Boyden, guest starred as Tess, the English girl.
I watched this episode again this week and one thing I noticed on my DVD edition that I hadn’t noticed before, was the voice over of Earl Hamner at the beginning of the episode. Come to think of it now though, I think there were lead ins such as this one from this season. I’m not sure why they were introduced. Anyway in this one Earl says the following:
“This is Earl Hamner, creator of The Waltons. This year, we bring you a different kind of Christmas story. World War II literally comes to Walton’s Mountain in the form of two English children seeking safety from the London blitz. It’s a story of courage and faith and the victory of the human spirit over the shattering impact of war. After this Christmas, never again will the world be the same. I invite you to enjoy a remarkable special broadcast.”
I think it would have been a difficult time to celebrate Christmas during the war years. Many of the young men in families would have been missing and lots of different items would have been scarce. I imagine that many families simply didn’t feel Christmassy at all.
This episode tells us of two English children who had been evacuated to the US after London bombings. Their home, their neighbourhood and their parents had all gone from their lives. The two children, Tess (played by Sally Boyden) and Pip (played by Jeff Cotler, Kami’s brother), arrived on Waltons Mountain, traumatised and determined to look after each other. In fact young Pip is so traumatised that he has stopped speaking.
They were initially billeted to stay with the Baldwin sisters, but they found it difficult to cope with them. The Baldwin’s wondered whether being with a family, in the midst of other children, might help them to recover.
Elizabeth does not really accept the two children. They just want to be together and don’t really want to join in with anything. She feels that they just want to watch and they’re spoiling her fun.
Olivia’s faith is tested as well during this episode. She wonders how God could possibly have allowed these, and so many other children to be affected by the horrors of war in the way they have.
Jason is also questioning his life. He is being taught to kill and he wonders how music will continue to play a part in his life. As Olivia tells him, perhaps if he feels that the job he is being trained to do has no place in it for music, then maybe it’s not the right choice for him. As Jason says though, to serve in the war is something that the country is expecting of him.
The final scenes are just beautiful. Jason has penned a Christmas carol, titled The Children’s Carol and the family and friends gather around the Walton’s Christmas tree to sing and finally enjoy Christmas for that year.
Here’s a few screen grabs from it.
Two photos of Tess and Pip, the English children.
Here’s some of the final scenes of family and friends around the piano.
This September we celebrate 40 years since the first Waltons episodes appeared on television. I think it’s a wonderful milestone for the show, and one we really should celebrate.
Leading up to this special anniversary, our Waltons Digest members will be having a look at the first season of The Waltons.
You might want to comment here about your favourite season 1 episodes, the characters who were introduced during Season 1and perhaps some of the themes that were introduced. If you are not a member of the Waltons Digest pop on over the my main Waltons site and send me an email.
Have a read of Earl Hamner’s latest blog post. It’s interesting to read how the show was perceived by critics in those early days. You might also want to pop over to my Waltons site, and have a look at some Waltons reviews by Variety. You’ll find them in the Waltons Articles link.
No matter what the critics thought of the show it won many awards that first season. It became the Outstanding Continuing Drama Series and the Outstanding New Series in the Emmys. Richard Thomas, Michael Learned and Ellen Corby all won Emmys in their categories and Will Geer was nominated. Single episodes were honoured with various awards. The Scholar, The Love Story, the Actress, The Literary Man and the Dust Bowl Cousins. Golden Globe awards were won. The list went on and on. The show went on to be well represented amongst the awards for many seasons. Earl Hamner’s show certainly rewarded the faith shown by the network which aired it.
Earl also mentions the Waltons reunion, being held in Los Angeles this year. Rod and I will be attending and I hope to meet up with some of our Digest members. Please make yourself known to me, as I only know some people by their email address and first name! You’ll be able to identify me. I’ll be the one with very strange accent! This one is being hosted by Carolyn, the president of the Waltons International Fan Club. Earl lists Carolyn’s email address in his blog post. Apparently the dinner is now fully booked but there may be a wait list if you are interested.
The other special event in Los Angeles is the following night. A special fund raiser is being hosted by Ray and is raising money for Kami Cotler’s school. Kami runs an Environmental Charter School and proceeds will go there. I think it’s a wonderful idea. The slogan is “Celebrating Family and Education” and those two things I wholeheartedly support. I’ve had a look at the website of Kami’s school and there seems to be some very interesting, innovative things happening there. It’s quite different to anything we have out here in Australia. I wonder if I could visit whilst I’m over there? Anyway, I am looking forward to attending this as well. Here’s Kami’s commercial for this special night.
Guests have been continually added and you’ll find the latest updated guest list at the official 40th site.
You will find further information on both of these events in Earl’s blog post. Please support it if you can. Our future is with the children we are educating today.
- A dream for Christmas
- Beulah Bondi
- Beverly Nault
- Christmas episodes
- Christmas films
- Darleen Carr
- Earl Hamner
- Ellen Corby
- Eric Scott
- Hollywood show
- Inspiration Network
- Joe Conley
- John McGreevey
- John Ritter
- Judy Norton
- Kami Cotler
- Kym Karath
- Lessons From The Mountain
- Lynn Hamilton
- Mary McDonough
- Nicholas Hammond
- Ralph Senensky
- Richard Thomas
- Ronnie Claire Edwards
- The Carol Burnett Show
- The Conflict
- The Firestorm
- The Gift
- The Homecoming
- The Homecoming Reunion
- The Intruders
- The Journey
- The Pony Cart
- The Sound of Music
- The Typewriter
- The Walnuts
- The Waltons
- Waltons 40th Anniversary
- Waltons Christmas CD
- Waltons Digest
- Waltons Fan Club Reunion
- Waltons Memorabilia
- Waltons Reunion 2010
- Waltons Reunion 2012
- Waltons Site
- Will Geer
- Will Geer Theatricum
- Zebulon Walton